Is it just me or has “growth hacking” risen in the ranks to become one of the most annoying digital marketing terms still being used? Or how about the “content is king” phrase and its many variations?
Over the holidays, I went home to spend some time with my family. I ran into one of my friends from school and one of the first questions he asked after learning I worked in marketing was “Do you like where you work? Are the people…. normal?” He then proceeded to tell me how the marketing team in his office used so much terminology and marketing lingo that it no longer felt like he was speaking to a real person. Ouch.
How many “growth hackers” or "smarketers" do you know? How many times has a project been put “on your radar”? Or perhaps you’ve been in a marketing conversation filled with any number of euphemisms like “content is king”.
If there’s one thing marketers need to embrace in 2017, it's simplifying what we do so it’s understandable for everyone. And that goes for marketers across all industries. So how about we all collectively agree for now that the only “King” is the King of Pop or the King of Rock & Roll. Radar is for detecting actual objects, and growth hacking is... well… for nothing. And in return, I’ll agree to stop using quotations and get to the point of this post.
Content Marketing Made Simple
In the spirit of simplification, let’s start with the king, content. HAH. Content can sometimes be the digital marketing catch-all, encompassing social media, downloadable offers, video projects, design and so on. But when was the last time you asked your clients and prospects about what they'd like to read? When was the last time you asked the question, “how can I make your life easier with my content?”
Many marketers create buyer personas as the first step of building a new program. In some cases, this persona process involves interviews with prospective and existing clients. Persona interviews allow marketers to make smart decisions by utilizing feedback from the people who use the product or service. But speaking with these clients about their needs once every couple of years is not enough. Enter the content marketing survey.
Content Marketing Survey + Analysis = The Real Growth Hacking
Content surveys are not a new concept. As much as I would like to credit for this idea, there are any number of fabulous resources like this Content Marketing Institute post and this Search Engine Watch blog that discuss this marketing tactic. But nevertheless, I would like to make sure you consider this initiative during your 2017 planning.
A few months ago, I let my content marketing strategy be defined by the analytics. I generally created personas at the beginning of a new program and then used behavioral data to influence my marketing decision making. This is probably a common strategy for many marketers. When budgets are limited, no one wants to waste time rehashing pre-completed digital marketing activities like creating personas. It’s time to whip out these easy and affordable surveys as an essential part of your plan!
Qualitative and Quantitative Data Are the New 'Smarketing'
Okay, okay. I admit data analysis and smarketing are two completely different concepts. And the concept behind smarketing is a fundamental part of inbound marketing and the HubSpot platform. But that term is a shiver-inducing phrase worthy of my new blockbuster, “When Marketing Geeks Attack!” starring Zooey Deschanel and the aliens from Mars Attacks in thick-rimmed glasses and skinny jeans. Calling all designers/animators… I’m going to need a mockup of that movie poster ASAP.
The quantitative data that tools like Google Analytics and HubSpot provide are amazing resources. There are probably thousands of blogs written about quantitative marketing data. Here are just a few PMG Blogs for reference:
- Keyword Strategy Tips: Our 3 Favorite Free Tools
- 3 Must-Use Google Analytics Features for Improving Your Marketing
- Why We Love HubSpot Analytics (Part 1) – The HubSpot Sources Report
But the numbers are only half the story. Your client’s opinions are just as important as trend lines and competitive data. Colleen Jones says it best in her Content Marketing Institute post on this subject.
"For example, one client team recently shared their frustration with me that 10 percent of their videos were driving 90 percent of their video traffic (an insight they gained based on behavior data). Why was the client frustrated? Because the data could not give them any clue as to why those particular videos succeeded, or what to do about it. As you can see, this behavior insight alone is limited in usefulness, and is not particularly actionable."
In Colleen’s example, the numbers alone did not provide the context to make smart marketing decisions. Most marketers have more data than they know what to do with. Without proper context, numbers are just numbers on a screen and marketing plans are left to gut decisions. Content surveys provide the context you need to make the numbers make sense. Which leads me back to my original question. When was the last time you asked the question, “how can I make your life easier with our content?”
Moving a Content Survey from 'On Your Radar' to On Your Marketing Plan
Content surveys don’t need to be a massive part of your yearly budget. In fact, most of the work has already been completed for you. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A survey tool. There are several options for survey tools. My top two recommendations are SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. Both have benefits and disadvantages but it primarily boils down to price and customization for me. Google Forms is free and is relatively customizable. They also offer several pre-created survey color schemes.
The cost to implement SurveyMonkey is between free and $85/month/user. Their freemium (caught myself using another marketing term!) version is limited to 10 questions and 100 responses which is probably a little light for most marketers. The next tier up is $26/month but it has a big advantage over Google Forms – its integration with HubSpot. To learn more about the SurveyMonkey and HubSpot integration click here. As a HubSpot user, SurveyMonkey is an obvious choice for my clients. If your client or company is more price sensitive, then Google Forms is also a nice option.
- A list of vetted questions. Ah the age-old conundrum... which came first—the chicken or the egg? How do you select vetted questions if you’ve never created a content survey before? Well, ladies and gentlemen, HubSpot couldn’t have made this process any easier. In fact, they’ve created the entire survey for you in this handy SurveyMonkey link. HubSpot has also created step-by-step directions for using this survey on the SurveyMonkey platform.
If that link alone wasn’t worth putting up with a 1500-word blog post filled with my dry humor, then I don’t know what else to say. You should probably stop reading here. Note, when using this survey, there’s one question I recommend adding. This survey benefits from a “How often do you read blogs?” question if you’re debating the importance of this type of content in your strategy. Just be sure to give reasonable buckets of answers, from never to a few times per week.
- A contact list & email design. You can circumvent the contact list necessity if you chose to purchase respondents from SurveyMonkey, but the quality of the data may suffer. There is a surprisingly limited number of blogs elaborating on survey email design. But here are a few resources to get you started if you’re looking for inspiration:
- *Bonus – A prize or giveaway. This is not a necessity for your survey to function. In fact, I’m surprised by how many people are not only willing to give their opinion for nothing in return but enjoy doing so. We live in the era of Yelp and Google Reviews, but it’s always nice to give something to thank people for their time. You can offer a free piece of content, like an eGuide or white paper, but given how much time and resources go into making a lengthy piece, I prefer to keep it simple. Amazon gift cards are affordable, universal, and can be gifted electronically.
Let’s “Think Outside the Box” in 2017
That was the last jargon-y marketing phrase for this post… at least intentionally.
And that’s it! I utilized HubSpot’s SurveyMonkey survey for the first time in 2016 and I’m officially a content survey convert. It’s now an element I’m adding to as many of my clients' marketing strategies as possible.
Have you executed a content survey for one of your clients? Share your feedback with me in the comments section below! And as always, if you’d like to learn more about the topic I discussed in this post, the cast of New Girl, or my thoughts on alien life, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.